Lab Matters Fall 2020 - Page 22


COVID , Hurricanes , Flooding and Fires :

Making a Strong Case for the Cloud

By Ben Moore , VP of Cloud Solutions , HORIZON Lab Systems , LLC
2020 , the year of the COVID-19 pandemic , has also been record-breaking in terms of natural disasters with 207 recorded globally in the first six months — far exceeding the 21st century average ( 2000-2019 ) of 185 for that same period . HORIZON has worked with laboratories across the US and abroad who have concerns over loss of access to their physical laboratories due to hurricanes , flooding and fires . While public health and private laboratories located in environmentally sensitive locations may lose their brick and mortar facilities ( and all equipment ) due to disasters , with Cloud-based technologies , their data will remain safe and accessible .
COVID-19 and the Cloud
The impact of COVID-19 on public health and private laboratories , as well as other businesses , has stressed the value of moving to Cloud-based technologies . The immediate and ongoing need for COVID-19 testing has been pushing the limits of public health and private laboratories across the country . Laboratory information management systems ( LIMS ) Cloud technologies enable administrators to quickly scale to increase or decrease the number of workers while maintaining US Food and Drug Administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations . For example , the LetsGetChecked laboratory responded to the pandemic by rapidly acquiring
LetsGetChecked Laboratories in Monrovia , CA and automating the HOLOGIC ® Panther system to test thousands of COVID-19 samples daily . This results in a much more cost-effective and quicker solution when compared to adding servers in a data center .
The pandemic has also had secondary impacts on many laboratories by increasing the number of remote employees . According to PwC ’ s US CFO Pulse survey released in June 2020 , more than 70 % of US companies ’ employees are now working remotely either exclusively or on a part-time basis . The survey findings also referenced that 54 % of CFOs plan to make remote work a permanent option . Counter to this , many public health laboratories have temporarily increased staffing to handle the additional sample throughput , though staff not essential onsite are often requested to work from home . When a LIMS is Cloudbased , it can be securely accessed by all employees , remote or onsite , to ensure needed work be completed .
Cloud-LIMS Selection
Whether replacing an old LIMS with a Cloud-based LIMS or moving the existing LIMS to the Cloud , questions need be addressed : What type of cloud hosting solution ? What certifications does the LIMS provider have ? What security does the host provide ? What uptime can be expected ? Are there references ?
Type of solution : PaaS or SaaS ? While both are Cloud-based solutions , a PaaS ( Product as a Service ) agreement generally means the laboratory owns the LIMS and the licenses in perpetuity however is hosting it remotely , often on the LIMS company ’ s server banks within a datacenter . In this case , the laboratory is still responsible for managing the application as an administrator , while maintenance , backups , high availability , etc . are provided under the hosting agreement . SaaS , or Software as a Service , is an agreement where the LIMS vendor manages the LIMS and hosting for the laboratory . The laboratory essentially leases use of the LIMS . Both options have sincere value . Which one is best ? That depends on staffing , resources and finances of the laboratory .
Security and certifications : Cloud providers handle large amounts of potentially sensitive information . When considering a Cloud-LIMS provider , it is imperative to seek out a LIMS company and / or cloud service provider that has undergone extensive SOC 2 Type II ( sometimes listed as Type 2 ) audits for certification . A SOC 2 Type II audit is more thorough than a SOC 2 Type I audit . It is conducted over many months , after which the results are collated into a report designed to give the provider insight into the management and adequacy of infrastructure and an organization ’ s security measures . The SOC 2 requirements , outlined in detail by the auditors , include rigorous goals for :
• security
• availability
• process integrity
• confidentiality
• privacy .
Ideally , a Cloud-LIMS provider and the associated cloud-hosting company have both undergone and keep up to date security certifications such as SOC 2 Type II certifications .
Ask for references : Cloud solutions take partnering with a LIMS company to a whole new level . Ask for references not only for the LIMS but for hosted LIMS solutions that are in place . Due diligence should not only go towards selecting a LIMS , it should also , and with equal weight , be given to the cloud solution in general . n
HORIZON is a Gold level sustaining member of APHL .
20 LAB MATTERS Fall 2020
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